Libraries of the Future ... Inside the University of Southern California's "Cybrary."

By Commings, Karen | Computers in Libraries, November-December 1994 | Go to article overview

Libraries of the Future ... Inside the University of Southern California's "Cybrary."


Commings, Karen, Computers in Libraries


The University of Southern California's new Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Library which opened in the fall of 1994 represents a synthesis of the latest in information technology and library design. Planned from the ground up as a teaching library, the $27.5 million facility was designed to be an experimental "think tank" for new modes of teaching and learning. Packed with modem electronics, it's a place where faculty and librarians will teach students how to navigate both the traditional world of print and the burgeoning world of digital information, imparting what USC University Librarian, Peter Lyman, calls "information literacy."

"Today's students," said Lyman, "have been saturated since birth with television and information produced by computers. The Leavey is designed to prepare these students to make critical judgments about this flood of electronic information."

While boasting a 65,000 volume collection of books and periodicals, the 86,000-square-foot library is also a state-of-the-art "cybrary" equipped with networking and multimedia computer technologies that dramatically extend its capabilities and reach. The library features two learning rooms--one with fifteen workstations and another with twenty-five--for training in library skills, database searching, and the use of Internet data resources such as

"gopher,"

"WorldWideWeb," and

"Mosaic." The library also includes touch screen interactive information kiosks and a computing "Discovery Center" where students and faculty can explore the latest in hardware and software. The center will provide technical assistance in a comfortable setting. An Information Commons will be furnished with 100 single and group workstations and open around the clock. Computer networks will enable students to tap resources in libraries across the nation and around the globe.

Multimedia technologies will enable librarians to archive visual documents such as photographs and paintings and sound or video recordings digitally Digital formats of different medial will enable users to combine and analyze material in new ways, revealing undiscovered connections and synergies between fields of study. …

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